ICYMI: LT. GEN. (RET.) KEITH KELLOGG PREVIEWS BIDEN’S PRESS CONFERENCE ON RUSSIA SUMMIT
June 16, 2021
David Asman: Former National Security Advisor to Former Vice President, Mike Pence, Lieutenant General, Keith Kellogg. Lieutenant General, great to see you. Thank you for being here. You know, the, the question of whether or not they came to any kind of remit or will on cyber security is, is a huge issue for this meeting. But we gave away such a huge bargaining chip in terms of giving President Putin, permission to go ahead with that gas pipeline between his country and Germany, which most of Europe is against. We gave it to the Russians without anything, and we didn’t. In fact, we gave it to him in the same week that we were being hacked by Russians with a colonial pipeline. So, it was almost rewarding, bad behavior. Where do we go from here? How do we force their hand on anything if we’re willing to give away something for nothing?
Lt. General (Ret.) Kellogg: Yeah. David, first thanks for having me. Look, I think the President, missed a huge opportunity to go side by side with Putin at a press conference. I mean, it, it shows, I believe weakness when you don’t sit side-by-side with a competitor, right? Putin is. President Trump’s stood side by side with him without notes, talked in 2018 at Helsinki and to let Putin set up there and talk for well over 40 minutes, which was really a lot of propaganda. It really amazed me and he covered a lot of areas. He covered the Ukraine and he covered the cyber area that we just talked about. And when you talk to Putin, when I was with the President over the last four years, President Trump, you know, we operated from strength, you know, when we sanctioned the Nord Stream Two pipeline and Biden lifted the sanctions on that, that means 80% of the natural gas that is used by Germany will come from Russia.
Well, that’s a huge economic advantage for Russia and it cuts out the Ukraine and we used to operate from other areas of strength, for example, when we, when they sent Russian mercenaries in Northern Syria against our special operations, troops, the Wagner group, you know, we killed about almost up to 200 of the mercenaries of the Wagner group, sent a clear message to Putin. Yeah. Don’t mess with us. Now, when it comes to it, let’s, let’s move quickly to what you talked about, about the colonial pipeline and about ransomware. We know that attack came out of Russia. There are state sanctions and state supported attacks, state sanction, that sort of like North Korea, having a cyber attack on us state sanctioned means they kind of turned a blind eye to it. And he, we accommodated that we shouldn’t do that, our response, and we should have told Putin that.
And I don’t know if we did, but I don’t believe we did. We should have told Putin the next time we get an attack from Russia, we will attack in kind, especially when it’s on our critical infrastructure like pipelines or energy or food suppliers like JBS recently was hit. We just cannot tolerate that. Or we have to go after them. President Trump rescinded all of the previous Obama restrictions on what we want to do with cyber. We basically took the handcuffs off two years ago and Biden should use those, use that ability to go after him. I think we just gave up too much to Putin today, and especially from the press conference and on what they, what they talked about.
David Asman: Well, as I was mentioning to our other General Alexander, we did the cyber command actually did engage in cyber counter attacks in 2018 and 2020 that they went public about. You know, there is a tendency with the Biden Administration to reverse anything that was done during the Trump Administration. Do you think they would go so far as to reverse that that is to pull back on counter attacks against Russia? If in fact we can trace some of the attacks to the government.
Lt. General (Ret.) Keith Kellogg: Well, it’s all a matter of will. Does he want to do that? He has the cyber command has the authority to do it. We gave them those authorities two years ago when we took off the handcuffs of cyber command to go after them. It’s the question of, will they go after them and will they do it? And we need to tell Putin or anybody else in the world, if you attack our critical infrastructure, we are coming after you strictly to this same thing you’re hitting us with. If you hit us on energy, we’re going to hit you on energy. You hit us on food supplies. We hit you on food supplies and take the handcuffs off. They have the ability to do it. We have a great capacity to do that.
David Asman: Let me just ask one question before we go to another panel on Ukraine. Putin was talking a little bit about that. Of course, once again, he is a master of deception and disinformation. So, what he said was, was largely deceptive, but what happens if they go into Ukraine? Of course, they took over Crimea in 2014. The Obama administration did little to, nothing about that. Let them essentially walk in will the same thing happened this time. If, if they go into Ukraine again?
Lt. General (Ret.) Keith Kellogg: Well, that to me, that’s a European problem. They need to address that. And they have the Minsk agreements, which they talked about. That’s with Germany and French, overseeing that with OSCE as well. And in the Donbas region there, they have the ability to do that. The Russian military clearly does. And they’re going to have to address that going forward. That’s a good question. Look, we gave lethal aid to the Ukraine. We gave him javelin and anti-armor missiles, the best in the world. Something that the Obama Administration did not do, but we need to push the Europeans much harder instead of having holding hands, singing kumbaya, we need to address that with the Europeans and tell them, look, this is in your backyard. You need to fix it.
David Asman: Yeah, I don’t think kumbaya works very well against the Russian military. It hasn’t in the past. Anyway. Keith Kellogg, General. Thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it.